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Tips When Inspecting Your Roof


The roof on your house is probably the most overlooked part of the structure of your residence. Many people do not realize they have a problem with their roof until the inevitable happens….. roof leakage. More often than not, that is when a roofer receives a call to perform a roof repair - only to find that the whole roof needs replaced. Some are frustrated when they are being apprised of this situation and believe the roofer may be trying to "sell" them something they may not need. Be aware that roof repairs cost more on a hourly basis then replacing a roof. It would take "only" approximately two days of doing roofing repairs to equal the same amount paid in labor for an entire week when replacing your roof.

When inspecting your roof check the condition of the following:

  • Brittle shingles
  • Cupped or buckling shingles
  • Granular wear
  • Proper ventilation
  • Chimney flashings (if applicable)
  • Soil-stack flashings
  • Step flashings (if applicable)
  • Sheathing rot
  • Loose sheathing/decking
  • Popped nails

Roofing Repairs/Leaks - Problems are usually, but not limited to the following:

1. Deterioration or improper installation of the roofing shingles
2. Deterioration or improper installation of the roofing sheathing/decking
3. Deterioration or improper installation of the flashings (soil-stack, chimney, step)
4. Improper installation or inferior quality of skylights
5. Improper installation/lack of drip-edge
6. Improper installation/lack of ice and water guard
7. Improper installation/lack of proper ventilation

Roofing Replacement - When contemplating your roof re-covering/replacement keep in mind the following facts;

Even though local building codes may allow you to install another layer of shingles over your existing roof, this may not be your best option. You may be covering existing problems that are only visible upon removal of your existing roof. This includes, but is not limited to items 2, 3, 5, and 6 from the list above. To properly re-cover/re-roof over your existing shingles you need to make sure the sheathing, flashings, and drip-edge are in such a condition they will last the life of your "new" shingles. You also need to keep in mind that if your existing shingles are brittle, cupping and/or buckling that this will not allow your new shingles to lay flat or seal down, further reducing their life expectancy.

If you want to re-cover/re-roof your existing roof "properly" you would need to cut back the shingles around the entire perimeter of the roof to install new drip edge. After all of this, you could still be reducing the life of your new shingles by as much as 50%. Re-covering the "right" way is "rarely" done and is just as expensive in "most" instances as removing the existing shingles that are on your roof and installing your new roofing materials properly.

Many roofing companies when re-covering/re-roofing will simply install new shingles over your old without giving any thought of what the useful life of the new shingles/roof is going to be. For roofing companies, installing new shingles over the old is the most "lucrative" way of making money and earning your business (lowest priced estimate/proposal). It is also the easiest, least time-consuming part of roofing.

The "best" and most cost effective way to ensure that you will receive the maximum life from your new roof is to remove the existing roof, re-nail the existing sheathing, install felt/underlayment, install new premium aluminum drip-edge, install new flashings/soil boots, install proper vents/ventilation and install roofing shingles. The cost is not that much higher to begin with, and the increased longevity of your roof will provide savings in the long run.